La Scala Theatre (Teatro alla Scala) in Milan is certainly one of the most prestigious places in the city. The theater, inaugurated in 1778, was designed by the architect Giuseppe Piermarini and was commissioned by the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria after a fire had destroyed the previous court theatre.
The theatre is named after the church of Santa Maria alla Scala, which was in fact demolished to make way for the new building. Piermarini was inspired by the theatre of the Caserta Palace designed by the famous architect Vanvitelli. The theatre Alla Scala opened with the representation of Antonio Salieri’s play “L’Europa riconosciuta” composed for the very occasion. Everything was very magnificent. Since the beginning the theatre has had its own choir, orchestra and its own ballet company. In 1982 it also had its own philharmonic orchestra.
In 1812 Rossini opened the season of Italian melodrama. In those years Donizetti and Bellini’s plays were also performed. In 1839 first of many works of Giuseppe Verdi, whose name will remain inextricably linked to La Scala Theatre, were enacted. In 1867 with the advent of Arturo Toscanini as artistic director of the theatre, Wagner’s music arrived in Italy. In 1885 came the first performance of an opera by Giacomo Puccini and later also his last “Turandot” in 1926 which is considered one of the last Italian melodramas.
In 1921 La Scala became an autonomous municipal body. In 1943 the building was bombed but it opened again three years later in 1946 with an unforgettable concert directed by Arturo Toscanini. Since 1948, some great characters take turns on the stage of La Scala: performers such as Maria Callas and directors such as Luchino Visconti and Giorgio Strehler, dancers like Margot Fonteyn, Serge Lifar, Maya Plissetskaya, Rudolf Nureyev. Carla Fracci made her stage debut in 1955; in 1965 Liliana Cosi and Luciana Savignano; in 1975 Oriella Dorella, and in 1985 Alessandra Ferri. Among the directors, Luciano Berio, Claudio Abbado, and Riccardo Muti.
In 2001 the building was closed for three years for restoration. The architect Mario Botta designed the scenic tower, the oval tower and service rooms. In 2005 Riccardo Muti left after 19 years at the helm of the artistic direction of the theater. Stephan Lissner was his successor. Daniel Barenboim is now the musical director.
It’s possible to visit the theatre museum which has been open since 1913 and located in the contiguous Casino Ricordi. It’s also possible to visit the theatre workshops at the former Ansaldo factories in Milan: 20,000 square meters divided into three pavilions where you can enjoy guided tours through an amazing journey behind the scenes. All the craftsmanship behind the staging happens here, and more than 60,000 costumes have been preserved.
Through the site Archivio La Scala you can access the history and the rich heritage of the theater thanks to an enormous work of digital conversion which began in 1996. If you wish to visit La Scala yourself, contact our team of professionals who will provide you with unique and personalised experience.